Take a moment to imagine a bright blue sky, stretching off into the distance. Feels pretty good, right? It is the perfect metaphor for the mind, a blank canvas on which thoughts, feelings and experiences appear.
Okay, maybe there are just a few clouds, but they tend not to bother us or distract us too much, especially if they are the cute little fluffy variety, this is how the mind appears when it is calm, bright, serene and happy. Have you ever experienced this or something similar?
But life is not always easy sometimes there are lot more clouds in the sky, sometimes there might be darkened, stormy variety, occasionally we might even begin to wonder if a hurricane is on the way. We get to the point where it is hard to think of anything else.
Sometimes we get so obsessed by the clouds, that we forget about the blue sky altogether, but it is still there. Every time you in a plane and you fly through the clouds, there it is, right? Without fail, blue sky.
It is easy to forget that what we are looking for is already here, and that is why we need reminding.
There is no right way to Meditate said Yumi Sakugawa in her Book.
Before starting to do meditation, it is essential to know “what is meditation?”
Meditation in Hindi means ‘Dhyan’. And ‘Dhyan’ is not something that requires doing or effort; it is not a work or a physical activity.
Like when you fall in love it happens, it is not something that you need to control or put your efforts in. Similarly, ‘Dhyan’is focusing on things, being aware of the present moment effortlessly.
In meditation it is focusing on the present, our surroundings, focusing on the actual and current inner and outer activities of this beautiful world.
For example, if you are eating something, you focus on how you feel when you ate it, being aware of the whole process, being aware of your actions, being aware of the results of those actions, If you are doing this then you are meditating. You can feel the taste, the flavour of every ingredient when you will stop thinking about everything else and concentrate on the food only.
Have you noticed that it is effortless to focus on things we are passionate and interested in? So, there is a connection in focus and interest. For example- when you play your favourite game on your mobile phone, you do not need any motivation, or it does not require any efforts to focus on playing that game. You naturally and quickly get involved the imaginary characters of that imaginary world.
So, The first step for meditating is doing the work – you are not interested in, but still, you learn to do it with all your focus and passion and become successful in that work, then you are ready for the next step.
The second stage is to conquer your body, your senses. Focus on your body. A human body is like a machine, and our mind controls it, but we rarely do anything for this machine.
Just as we use our car for commuting; maintain it and send it to a service station for the servicing. Similarly, our body also requires servicing and maintenance. You have to understand your body. Focus on its flexibility, strengthening, control on your diet, power on your senses.
Let us come to the mind, the third stage of meditation, the tough but the most crucial step – our feelings, emotions, thoughts. If you conquered the first two stages, then you are ready to focus and understand “What is mind?” not “How to control your mind?” Because you cannot control the thing, you do not even understand or know about.
It is like you did not learn how to drive the car and you are trying to control the vehicle. It is vital to understand “What is a car?” You must know the difference between clutch and break. You must have at least a little knowledge about the basic controls of the vehicle.
When you ask the question what a mind is, you start to get the answers. As the solution for each and every problem lies in itself, we always focus on the solution but not the problem, and that is the real ‘problem’.
Let me explain. Where can you find the answer to this question of “How to make our mind peaceful?” in a book? In a video? In an article? No, it is not somewhere far or unachievable.
The point is, your mind is restless, and your own experiences have the solution for that restlessness. If you are unhappy, then the answer to your unhappiness is that ‘unhappiness’, but we do not like to address and acknowledge that unhappiness. We do not stay with the restless mind. We want that mind to be peaceful immediately. That is the problem.
It is the same difference as in Allopathy and Ayurveda. In allopathy, we feel the pain we take medicine and immediately get some relief from the pain after taking that medicine. But, is it healthy? Does the medicine work on the cause of suffering? No, it just numbs the pain for some time. It is not a permanent cure.
Mediation is – be available for what is existing at the moment? Not, what should be there? It is living in the present state, not in the fantasied world of our mind.
Contrary to what you may have heard, there is not just one perfect, correct, pure way to meditate.
Just as how there is no right way for a river to flow into an ocean, there are so many ways to meditate to expand your sense of inner peace and joy.
Many people like to sit in a comfortable position with their eyes closed. You can meditate in a chair, on the floor, outdoors, in a big group, with music, while walking, with wide-open eyes; do what you are most comfortable with.
You can also decide what you want to focus on when you are meditating – your favourite colour, an image that brings peace to you, your breathing, inner silence, peace for all, a face of a loved one, your ‘chakras’, the sound of the ocean, love, infinity, your Deity/Deities.
Sometimes it is okay if the only thing you did today was breathing – breathing lets your loved ones know that you are still alive. And every time you breathe in, a new idea is born, and every time you breathe out, an old grievance is released.
A simple way to meditate at your home –
Look for a place in your routine, where this exercise can slot in easily. It is recommended to meditate as the first activity of the day in the morning. But you might need to be flexible with that.
Find somewhere you will not be disturbed and where there is peace. Sit in a comfortable position and try to keep your back straight, but not too tense. You should not be thinking about your body strain while meditating.
Allow your body and mind to relax.
Begin with your eyes open, not staring too intently, just be aware of the space around you, just maintaining that soft focus with your eyes.
Starting with the couple of big, deep breaths, breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth.
Try to feel the air going in and out of your body, feel the light pressure of your heart beating against your ribcage.
Slowly and gently close your eyes. Allow the breath to return to its natural rhythm, in and out through the nose.
And you pause for a moment, just noticing the feeling of the body, the weight of the body pressing down, contact of your body and the ground. Noticing any sounds around you.
You start to notice how the body moves with every breath you take. That rising and falling sensation. As you try to follow this movement your mind wander away, almost inevitably, no problem if it does, it is perfectly natural.
As soon as you realise it has wandered, just acknowledge that. Let it go in the direction it wants. Let it come back again to that rising and falling sensation.
Let the thoughts come into your mind.
Be aware of the thoughts that you are thinking. Now try to detach yourself, and become the silent witness of your thoughts. Watch your thoughts like a movie.
Once you have detached from yourself, observe your own thoughts as though you are a scientist observing a lab specimen.
You may find that lot of your thoughts are unproductive and hinder your happiness in real.
But it is significant to understand that we are not ‘our thoughts’. They are just like clouds passing by, and you are the sky. Enjoy having nothing to do, just observe the train of thoughts.
Let them come and go, do not hold on to any thought or thinking. Let your thoughts all pass by- without affecting you, in any way. Listen to your thoughts.
Imagine your thoughts being transcribed on a giant screen as you are thinking them.
Notice the spaces between your thoughts- the areas are brief pockets of silence that exist in between your never-ending stream of thoughts.
Having more space in your thoughts means you have more room for your true essence to shine through.
So, start listening to the silent spaces in your thoughts and enjoy the wells of peace that exist within them. When you feel relaxed and calm- Feel the weight of the air around you.
Feel the surface of your own skin.
Now, imagine that a magical eraser is erasing the outline of your being. Until there is no boundary between you and the rest of the universe, your heart is a Sun. OM.
Some days meditation would feel comfortable and on others, it might feel difficult, the trick is to stay with it each time gently. No matter how it feels.
Why is Meditation good for you?
You feel way more chilled out and happier.
You do not freak out as much to life’s inconveniences and detours. It can help you respond more skillfully to stressful situations. And it can help you find another place in your mind, a place of calm that is always there.
Creativity and new ideas flow into your brain with greater ease. Life feels more like riding out a current than fighting an uphill battle. An overall greater sense of inner peace and wholeness.
So the bottom line is:
Meditate every day – even if it means you are paying extra attention to the colour of the leaves for 30 seconds while walking from the office to your car. Or your focus on your breathing for one minute while waiting for your bus to come on the bus stand.
It is extremely crucial to understand that patience and consistency are keys to achieve the maximum benefit of performing an activity. You do not have to meditate for hours. You do not have to become a ‘Swami’ or ‘Guru’. You have to discover yourself by giving a few minutes everyday.
No matter how busy you are- squeeze a little meditation into your everyday schedule. By that every day your capacity for peace, joy and compassion grows by just a little bit.
Turn the rock in your heart into a web of fire, to lead yourself out of the darkness.
Turn the rock in your heart into a river, to dilute all your worries into an ocean.
Turn the rock into your heart into a crystal that reflects the light- until everything is light.
Remind the rock in your heart that it is not a rock, but a seed in disguise.